What to Make of Nielsen’s Latest “The Gauge” Report

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For two weeks in a row, my Streaming Rating’s Report has gone long—mainly because we were nearing the end of Emmy awards eligibility season—so I had to cut material, but Nielsen’s The Gauge was so interesting, I just had to share it with you this week. To do that, I decided to dust off an old feature “A Visual of the Week”. (If I had the time—and who am I kidding, an entire staff—I’d love to highlight one of these per week.)

For those who don’t know, The Gauge is Nielsen’s monthly look at total TV viewing across living room TVs, broken out by source (broadcast, cable, streaming) and platform (streamer mainly). Here’s May’s result:

Right now, Nielsen’s The Gauge is my best guide to the relative size of the streamers in America. If you want to understand why it’s an accomplishment for Peacock to get even one title on the weekly Nielsen top ten charts, it’s because Peacock has 1/7th the usage of Netflix. One of my goals in writing the Streaming Ratings Report is to provide this type of context. (Similar to how Nielsen previously had a metric to adjust cable ratings for how many markets a given channel was in.)

Anyways, here are my trend lines for The Gauge since July 2022 (when Nielsen updated their methodology for calculating Live TV, excluding Live TV viewing for Hulu and YouTube):

(Note: Paramount+ isn’t included yet. Presumably they’re in the “other category”, which I leave out of this look.)

Now, some thoughts:

  • Netflix had a big jump and has arrested the downward slide of 2023 so far, getting back to their viewership totals of last summer. The good run of debuts (Beef into The Night Agent into Firefly Lane into Queen Charlotte) seems to have helped.
  • Quietly, though, YouTube continues to grow. And this—as a reminder—without their vMVPD (YouTube live TV) usage. I’ve been bullish on YouTube for a while (I think they’re the inverse of Netflix, in that they have one-half the hype but twice the upside), but want to mention that media analyst/strategist Julia Alexander is on this corner too.
  • The Roku Channel is the newest addition to The Gauge, another FAST. These FASTs—free, ad-supported, streaming TV—are growing like weeds, and really may take share of the SVOD streamers viewership. Pluto, though, has not really grown since it joined the charts.
  • Disney+ really hasn’t had any growth, but if you squint, you can see some growth for Hulu.
  •  HBO Max didn’t become Max until the end of May, and we’ll see if that merger can boost their usage in future updates.

Lastly, I don’t usually comment on my combined “Nielsen Top 30” chart—as a reminder, I take Nielsen’s three separate top ten lists, Original, Acquired, and “Film” and rank them in terms of total hours—but it really is getting “colorful” lately, meaning each streamer is showing up more and more. The caveat—because data almost always has caveats—is that a few of the “non-exclusive” titles definitely get a TON, if not a super majority, of their viewership on Netflix (S.W.A.T., Shameless, CoComelon, etc).

If you’re thinking, “Hey, why doesn’t the EntStrategyGuy update his weekly-count chart”, I will over the next few weeks. So just hang on a pinch and stay subscribed for future Streaming Ratings reports.

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

Former strategy and business development guy at a major streaming company. But I like writing more than sending email, so I launched this website to share what I know.


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